neil moode

Andrew shuts the door behind him and tells himself that he isn’t going out of his way to be quiet so he won’t wake up Neil. He’s starting to believe Neil’s onto something when he calls Andrew a terrible liar, but he’d never admit that to his face.

Out of spite and anger at that realization, Andrew lets his keys clatter on the table as he sets them down, along with his bags from where he was travelling with his team. He only succeeds in rousing the cats; Neil sleeps like the fucking dead.

King meows noisily at Andrew’s feet while Sir makes himself at home on the kitchen table. Andrew says “no” a few times, but the dumb things keep looking at him, so he scratches behind their ears until they sniff and go away. They got the cats because Neil didn’t like being alone when Andrew was at games and cats could more or less take care of themselves if they were gone for a day. If their schedules both meant they were gone for a few days, one of the Foxes would catsit, usually Matt or Renee. They joked that they were the godparents, much to Andrew’s chagrin.

He wondered at how domestic he’d become and the clench in his gut at the thought is still there, though it lessened a bit every day. He still woke up most days waiting for the other shoe to drop and the cats moving in the middle of the night still startled him, but he feels…settled. And that scares him more than anything else.

He walks into the bedroom and it isn’t until he’s down to his tank top and boxers and is crawling into bed that Neil finally stirs with a groan. When he sees Andrew, his face breaks into a sleepy smile and he says, groggily, “You’re home.”

His Neil isn’t usually like this. Neil’s not soft, or nice, even after all these years. His Neil screams at matches on TV and tells off reporters who dare to bring up his past in interviews. His Neil pisses Andrew off to no end by stealing the covers and letting the cats on the bed and asking Andrew to go to Aaron’s wedding when Andrew wants to throw the invitation away.

They’re not soft people; they love with all they have and fight with it too. But there are moments like this, when Andrew’s tired and something in him slips and cracks, where he lays down next to Neil and brushes his fingers over the scars on Neil’s face, the most beautiful part of him, and whispers, “Yeah. I’m home.”